Phil pushed the bookcase against the door then wiped the sweat from his forehead with the bottom of his Captain America t-shirt.
‘That’s pointless, cats can’t open doors,’ said Joe, slumping onto the bed next to Rohan.
Phil looked across at his two friends. ‘Just in case. Cats don’t normally turn into marzipan and eat people either, we don’t know what they can do now.’
‘I don’t think they’ll be able to open doors.’ Joe raised his eyebrows.
‘Well, just in case. Humor me.’ Phil paced across to the bed and kicked Joe’s foot.
‘Hey, guys, c’mon,’ said Rohan.
‘Sorry Ro, you ok?’ Joe asked.
‘Of course he’s not ok numbnuts, he just watched his sister being bitten by a marzipan cat, and then turning into marzipan herself!’ Phil pulled up his desk chair and sat down opposite Joe and Rohan.
Joe stretched out and kicked Phil’s leg. ‘I’m aware of that numbernuts, I saw it too. And old Mrs.Terry on the corner, all her five cats had marzipaned, she had no chance.’
‘What’s happening guys? What we gonna do?’ Rohan’s eyes flicked back and forth between Joe and Phil.
Phil sighed. ‘I don’t know.’
‘When will your mom and dad be back?’ Rohan threw his question in Phil’s direction.
Phil rubbed his eyes, his hands slightly trembling. ‘They won’t be coming back. It was on the TV before you both got here, it’s all over the place, the cats, they’re everywhere.’
Joe pulled his legs up onto the bed. ‘They can’t be everywhere.’
‘They’re everywhere,’ said Phil, through gritted teeth.
Rohan knelt up on the bed, surveying out of the window. He could see yellow cats, lots of yellow plastic looking cats, prowling and pacing along the hydrangea lined neighborhood. ‘What we gonna do?’
‘We can stay here? Wait for help.’ Joe nodded at his own suggestion.
‘Help won’t be coming.’ Phil swiveled left and right on his chair. ‘Everybody bitten or scratched turns to marzipan and dies.’
Joe joined Rohan looking out of the window. ‘Why aren’t the cats dying? When they turn to marzipan, why aren’t they dying, like the people?’
‘I don’t know, I didn’t create the mutant marzipan moggies did I?’ Phil rubbed sweat off his forehead again. ‘And the people, after they’ve turned and are dead, they come back to life.’
Joe spun away from the window and looked back at Phil. ‘Shit.’
‘So they are ok then?’ Rohan turned to join the other boys’ stares.
‘Yeah they’re fine.’ Phil’s fake smile turned into a glare. ‘Of course they’re not ok, they’re made of solid marzipan, doofus.’
The three boys sat silently. Joe bit at his nails, Phil rocked on the chair, and Rohan stared at his red socks. A clock in the shape of a rocket ticked behind Phil on his desk. Loud meowing and human screams fought for airspace outside.
Rohan looked up from his socks. ‘If no help is coming, we’re going to have to kill the cats ourselves.’
‘And just how do you kill them?’ Joe got up and started to pace the small room. ‘I mean, I know how you’d kill a normal cat, but one that’s made of fucking marzipan?’
‘Your mum would freak at your language,’ said Rohan.
Joe stopped his pacing. ‘My mum is probably almond paste right now, I don’t think she’d fucking care.’
‘You’re such a grown up.’ Rohan pulled his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around them.
‘Fuck fuck fuckity fuck.’ Joe continued his pacing.
Phil stopped moving on the chair. ‘We have to eat them.’
‘What?’ Joe stopped in his tracks.
‘The cats,’ said Phil. ‘It said on the news, the only way they can be stopped is by eating them.’
‘Eating them?’ Rohan grimaced.
Joe swung his arms animatedly. ‘Can’t we just chop their heads off?’
‘If their heads are chopped off they just morph back together, same if you squash them,’ Phil mimed squishing and growing with his hands, ‘they just go back into their cat shapes. Guessing it’s the same for the people too.’
‘I can’t eat people,’ said Joe.
Rohan wiped his hands down his thighs. ‘I can’t eat cats. I’m a vegetarian.’
‘It’s bloody marzipan. Without the blood.’ Phil twirled around in the chair to face Joe. ‘Just like eating the marzipan fruits your Auntie Gayle gives you at Christmas.’
‘Eating a non-moving marzipan apple the size of my thumb is a bit different to eating a full sized marzipan cat in attack mode, or a relative,’ said Joe.
Phil stood up and walked across to Joe. ‘We can stun the cat, or person, first, by whacking them with something, then eat them quickly.’
Joe shrugged and fiddled with his belt. ‘At least we won’t have to worry about finding food.’ He attempted to laugh but just made a snorting noise and twitched his lips.
‘Maybe we can make a pact though.’ Phil patted Joe’s shoulder. ‘I don’t think any of us want to eat our own family.’
‘No!’ gasped Rohan.
‘Gross,’ said Joe.
Phil looked across at Rohan, then back to Joe. ‘So why don’t we agree, that if we get in a ‘situation’ with family, one of us others will deal with it.’
Rohan started to cry. ‘I can’t.’
Joe slunk over to the bed and sat next to Rohan. ‘Look Ro, I know it’s hard but we gotta pull together here.’
‘No, I mean I can’t. I can’t eat marzipan.’ Rohan stifled his sobs. ‘I’m diabetic.’
‘Shit.’ Phil kicked the bookcase.
From the other side of the door there was a hiss of a cat. Phil leapt away from the bookcase and door and almost landed on Joe’s lap as he launched himself onto the bed. The cat started scratching at the door.
Joe gripped Rohan’s knee. ‘Christ, maybe it’ll go away?’ The scratching at the door continued.
Rohan swallowed hard. ‘How can marzipan make a scratching noise like that?’
Joe realized he was holding Rohan’s knee and let go. He frowned at Rohan. ‘I don’t know, shall we open up the door and find out?’
Rohan hugged his legs again and lowered his head.
‘Sorry Ro,’ said Joe. ‘I’m not feeling myself.’
Phil shuffled across the bed a little. ‘You’re looking a little yellow Joe, you feel sick?’
Joe shook his head. ‘No, just a bit spaced, like you? Don’t you feel spaced?’
‘Wired, I’m feeling wired, not spaced.’ Phil turned his head to Rohan. ‘Ro?’
‘Not spaced, hyper ventilating.’ Rohan edged away a few inches from Joe.
Phil stood up slowly. ‘You haven’t been bitten have you?’
‘No,’ said Joe.
‘Or scratched, you might not have felt a scratch while we were running over here.’ Rohan slid off the bed and stood next to Phil.
‘No, I’m fine.’ Joe clenched his hands.
‘You’re definitely more yellow now. Look.’ Phil pointed to Joe’s bare legs, not covered by his shorts.
‘It’s the light in here.’ Joe grabbed the pillow from the bed and tried to cover his legs.
‘Shit Joe, you’re turning, look at the scratch on your arm!’ Phil took a step back, bumping into the chair.
All three boys looked at Joe’s arm. His skin was buttery yellow. There was a gaping gash, about an inch long, and thick yellow pus paste oozed out from it.
‘No! Oh God no. Guys you have to help me!’ Joe cried as he stared at his changing body.
‘We can’t do anything,’ said Phil, gripping onto the back of the chair. ‘There’s no cure, we can’t save you.’
‘Then you have to kill me.’ Joe stopped crying and sniffed. He held his arms out. ‘Eat me.’
‘You’re not fully turned! I can’t eat you yet.’ Phil grimaced.
Joe lowered his arms. ‘Ok, well, get ready.’
‘I don’t think I can do this,’ said Phil, sitting in the chair.
‘You have to,’ Joe pleaded. ‘Rohan can’t or he’ll go into a diabetic coma.’
Rohan shifted slightly from side to side, sniffing.
‘There are bits of you that I really don’t think I can eat.’ Phil nodded towards Joe’s crotch.
‘Christ Phil, you can’t leave just my wiener running around after people.’ Joe rubbed the pus paste into his arm as a bit more oozed out. ‘What kind of sicko does that.’
‘What kind of sicko eats your wiener!’ Phil made a snorting noise as he laughed and stifled a cry at the same time.
Joe laughed and wiped yellow tears away with his sticky fingers.
‘Can’t you just leave?’ Rohan mumbled. ‘You could eat that cat on your way out.’
‘Wow, really finding out about my friends now.’ Joe smiled at Rohan.
Rohan limply smiled back. ‘It’s because we’re your friends we don’t want to eat you.’
‘C’mon Joe.’ Phil stood up. ‘We need to throw you under the bus.’
Joe looked to Rohan then Phil. ‘What bus?’
‘It’s a metaphysical bus.’ Phil took a step closer to Joe and hovered his hand over Joe’s shoulder, gently tapping with his fingers. ‘C’mon Joe, take one for the team, I’d leave if it was me infected. I’d push you out the door but I don’t want my fingers sinking into your fat marzipan middle there.’
‘I’d eat you if we were switched numbernut.’ Joe stood up and stepped towards the door. ‘I’ll eat the cat, then I’ll run away from the house, draw any others away.’
Rohan moved closer. ‘Thanks Joe.’
‘Sorry bud.’ Phil’s voice started to crack.
Joe nodded. ‘Get ready to slam the door shut.’ He started to shove the bookcase out of the way but his thumb mushed into the wood. Sighing, he scraped it off, remolded it, and stuck it on his head.
Phil laughed. ‘Numbnut.’ He dragged the bookcase away from the door and held the door handle. He locked eyes with Joe. ‘Ready?’
Joe nodded, and smiled at Phil and Rohan. Phil yanked the door open and Joe shot out, Phil slamming the door behind him. Phil leant against the door and closed his eyes. Rohan sat on the bed, leant forward, and held his head in his hands. The boys were silent as the wailing of a cat and scuffling outside the door took place. There was a final high pitched cat screech then the landing fell silent too.
After five minutes of stillness, Phil stopped leaning against the door and turned, pressing his ear up against it. ‘Joe? You still there?’
‘Yes,’ said Joe from behind the door.
Rohan lifted his head from his hands. ‘I thought you were going to run away?’
‘I was.’ Joe’s voice sounded muffled. ‘I don’t want to die out there on my own. I’m scared.’
‘He’s going to fully turn any minute.’ Rohan whispered to Phil.
Phil nodded, then talked to the door again. ‘Did you eat the cat?’
‘No. Well, I tried to eat it, but it’s very struggly. I ate its leg. It’s not happy with me. It’s just staring at me now. I’m sorry’
Phil placed his hand flat against the door. ‘I’m sorry too Joe’. He turned and looked at Rohan, and raised his eyebrows.
Rohan nodded and stood up from the bed. Phil slowly twisted the door handle and opened it. Joe was sat on the floor, not only was his skin bright yellow but his hair had turned from dark brown to yellow chunky strands. His thumb was still on his forehead.
Phil opened the door wider. He could see an angry looking marzipan cat in a crouching attack position further along the landing. ‘Let the cat come in. And put your thumb back where it should be.’
‘If you’re going to be marzipan, we will too,’ said Rohan.
‘No, you can stay safe.’ Joe shuffled to his feet, removing his thumb from his head and molding it back on his hand.
‘No one is safe. If we don’t have our families we only have each other, but if we don’t have each other, what’s the point in hiding out.’ Phil shrugged.
The cat suddenly rocketed itself into the room, hissing and lashing out in a frenzied Catherine Wheel of almond rage.
‘It got me!’ Rohan rubbed his leg.
‘Me too,’ said Phil.
The cat limped out on its three legs, tail twitching like a caffeinated cobra. Joe shuffled into the room and slumped onto the bed. His eyelashes had turned to marzipan strands.
‘Do you think we’ll know each other when we turn?’ asked Rohan. ‘You know, when our brains are marzipaned?’
‘Yeah, sure we will.’ Phil patted Rohan on the shoulder. ‘Friends and numbnuts forever.’